This tapestry was woven for the Eastern Region Textiles Forum exhibition with RHS Hyde Hall, Changing Earth. Work for the exhibition was created in response to the RHS report gardening in a changing climate. Pollinators Paradise is a celebration of favourite meadow flowers such as ox-eye daisies, poppies, cornflowers, dandelions, and primrose mixed with echinacea and rudbeckia to create a paradise for insects.
After spending my time creating smaller and smaller work in the last couple of years due to a different way of family life and my children being at home many more hours than when schools were constantly open, I was looking forward to weaving a larger tapestry incorporating the flowers I had become fascinated in weaving on the circle loom. After reading the Gardening in a Changing Climate Report it seemed only fitting that a floral tapestry should be created for the exhibition.
My woven flowers have always been inspired by wildflowers, or flowers that I have fallen in love with and grow in my garden to attract and feed more insects. Flowers such as poppies, daisies, dandelions, and mallow are some of my favourites and are loved by visiting insects. Hopefully as our climate is changing these flowers will survive and keep flourishing. The RHS report highlights how changes in the climate are influencing growing seasons, this is already seen in gardens with spring flowers blooming earlier and, in November 2021 I had common poppies (a flower in decline in the wild due to intensive agriculture) still flowering until the middle of the month.
These changes in the climate are creating new and different pressures on wildlife which needs our help more than ever after recent years of removing and destroying natural habitats. Our gardens are spaces where we can do our bit and help as much as possible by understanding what the natural world on our doorstep needs and creating spaces and wildlife friendly corridors across our back gardens for the insects, birds amphibians and mammals that need our spaces to be shared spaces. A RHS study showed planting a mixture of flowering plants from different countries is most effective for attracting pollinating insects. Will embracing this approach in our gardens change the future interaction between the garden and the natural environment?
Another big influence on the design and inspiration for pollinators Paradise was the sky meadow at RHS Hyde Hall. The idea of creating cultivated perennial future meadows with plants from areas of the world such as North America and South Africa, their flowers reaching high to the sky, inspired the image I designed incorporating garden favourites Echinacea and Rudbeckia sitting above the grasses full of poppies, dandelions, cornflowers and daisies.
Weaving the tapestry
(find links of a couple of short videos of me weaving Pollinators Paradise at the bottom of the page)
Before I could start weaving the tapestry, I had to weave mini bouquets ready to embed. Using mainly cottons I wove a handful of red, white yellow and blue flowers on my circle loom, before translating this same technique to create the echinacea and rudbeckia leaving the warps long to create their petals.
To weave the background, I used more traditional woven tapestry techniques, blending wools, cottons and linen to create the grass, leaving the weft ends long to give a much more textured feel. A technique I had used a when weaving Meadow Salsify in 2020 but this time I was working the wool into a much bigger area and leaving a longer pile.
While weaving Meadow Salsify and Meadow 2 I had enjoyed developing the relationship between natural fibres and fishing line and continued to develop this while weaving Pollinators Paradise, with the echinacea and rudbeckia sitting above the grasses in a sky of fishing line.
As with most of my work no new fibres were bought for this piece, I was able to use fibres either left from past projects and workshops, or with those given to me, meaning I again achieved a piece which hasn’t taken any new resources from the environment, something I strive to do with all my woven work.
Pollinators Paradise (Woven Tapestry in wools, linen, cotton and fishing line 2022)
A photograph of Poppies flowering just outside my studio in November 2021
A bunch of mini woven flowers, pre woven ready to be embedded into the tapestry background